Frequently Asked Questions : NIDDK

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is NIDDK?
A:  The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We conduct and support biomedical research, disseminating research findings and health information to the public. We are part of the U.S. Government, under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Q:  Where is the National Institutes of Health located?
A:  The NIH campus is located in Bethesda, Maryland, on Wisconsin Avenue (across from the Bethesda Naval Medical Center). Directions and maps are available. NIDDK's Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch is located in Arizona.

Q:  Can I get on your online mailing list (listserv) for news releases?
A:  You can subscribe to the Department of Health and Human Services listserv, to which the National Institutes of Health--including NIDDK--provides its news releases.

Research Funding and Planning

Q:  How do I apply for funding for my biomedical research?
A:  Most NIH-funded research is investigator-initiated: scientists from universities and labs around the country apply for funding for projects that interest them. Requests for Applications (RFAs) are issued to foster interest in certain areas. Applications undergo a two-step peer review process by outside scientific experts to ensure the highest scientific standards among funded projects. In the first step, a study section assigns numeric priority ratings to applications based on their scientific merit and feasibility. In the second step, the NIDDK's National Advisory Council approves the study section's recommendations. This process is mandated by U.S. law. For further information, see the Grants section of the NIH home page or the Research Funding Opportunities section of the NIDDK home page. You may also contact GrantsInfo (301) 435-0714, or email:

Q:  How do I contact an NIDDK staff member about a grant application?
A:  If you know the name of the person you need to contact, NIDDK's staff directory lists email addresses and telephone numbers for NIDDK and NIH staff. If not, look at the five divisions under the Research Funding or Organization sections. The five divisions are the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases (DEM), the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN), the Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases (KUH), the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA), and the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination (DNRC).

Laboratories at NIDDK

Q:  How do I apply for a summer position in a lab at the National Institutes of Health?
A:  Information about research and training opportunities at the NIH is provided by the NIH Office of Education.

Health Information

Q:  How do I find the answers to my specific medical questions?
A:  NIDDK cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice for an individual situation. A doctor who has examined you and knows your medical history is the best person to provide that information.

The NIDDK's health information section lists titles of lay-language and easy-to-read publications on topics covered by NIDDK. (You may also refer to the National Institutes of Health's Health Information Index or to use the NIH search engine if you're not sure which institute covers your area of interest.) If you have a complex question and you're comfortable with technical articles, you can search the medical literature by using the free Internet access to MEDLINE. MEDLINEplus contains consumer-friendly information on specific disease topics and conditions and also includes links to medical encyclopedias and dictionaries, drug information, and other resources. If you still need help finding general information about a diagnosed condition, send your question to the NIDDK site manager.

Q:  How can I find a support group for people with my medical condition?
A:  You can ask your doctor or local hospital for information on support groups. You can also check our directories of professional and voluntary organizations for the areas of diabetes, digestive diseases, kidney and urologic diseases, and metabolic and endocrine disorders.

Q:  What are the possible side effects of my prescribed medicines?
A:  Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions about the drugs prescribed for you. You can also consult the Physician's Desk Reference, which is widely available at local libraries. It describes drugs, how they work and interact, and their possible side effects.

In addition, you can access MEDLINEplus for a guide to more than 9,000 prescription and over-the-counter medications provided by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).

Q:  Can you refer me to a specialist or tell me the best place to go for treatment of my disorder?
A:  We cannot provide referrals as we cannot and do not evaluate practicing physicians. Ask your primary physician for a referral to a specialist. You can also contact a local medical society for a listing of specialists in your area. We recommend seeking a specialist associated with a university-affiliated or teaching hospital if one is in your area. Try to find a physician who is board certified in the specialty you need and skilled in the procedures you may undergo. To verify a physician's credentials, look in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, which is available in most public libraries.

In addition, MEDLINEplus provides a consumer-friendly listing of organizations that will assist you in your search for physicians and other health professionals.

Q:  Where can I find treatment guidelines?
A:  For clinical standards and guidelines, you can search the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

Q:  How do I make an appointment with a specialist at NIDDK?
A:  NIDDK conducts and supports biomedical research. We are not a diagnostic institution. Any patients seen at the NIH Clinical Center have a specific diagnosis and have been referred by their physicians to participate in research studies. Practicing physicians seeking to consult with a specialist may contact the NIDDK investigator directly. If you need help finding the right person, contact the Office of Communications and Public Liaison at (301) 496-3583 or send your inquiry to the NIDDK site manager.

Q:  Can you provide information on alternative remedies for my condition?
A:  The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a good source for such information.

Q:  Where can I get a meal plan or nutrition advice for my disorder?
A:  General information on nutrition related to specific diseases is incorporated into our fact sheets on those diseases. For individual advice on meal plans related to medical conditions, you should meet with a registered dietitian. Your doctor can provide the name of a dietitian in your area. More information about registered dietitians is available from the American Dietetic Association.

Q:  How can I get help paying for medications or medical treatment for diabetes and kidney diseases?
A:  Read our fact sheets Financial Help for Diabetes Care and Financial Help for Treatment of Kidney Failure. Also talk with your health care team. They can tell you about sources of help in your community.

Q:  Does Medicare cover my diabetes supplies?
A:  Medicare covers the same supplies for people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes: glucose testing monitor, blood glucose test strips, lancets, spring powered devices for lancets, and glucose control solutions. Some frequency limitations may apply. Medicare does not cover insulin and syringes.

For more information on Medicare coverage related to diabetes, call the Medicare Hotline toll free at 1-800-MEDICARE and read the Power to Control Diabetes Is in Your Hands brochure from the National Diabetes Education Program. (This document is in PDF format and requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Q.  Are there blood glucose monitors available that do not require sticking my fingertip?
A:  Yes. Several available meters use alternate-site testing. For example, you can obtain a blood sample from your forearm or other less sensitive areas, instead of your fingertip. Researchers are also developing methods of noninvasive monitoring (checking blood glucose levels without puncturing the skin for a blood sample). In March 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a noninvasive blood glucose monitoring device for adults with diabetes. The GlucoWatch Biographer, manufactured by Cygnus Inc., was approved to detect glucose level trends and patterns in adults age 18 and older with diabetes. To learn more about such monitors and new products after they are approved, call the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332) or see the FDA's Index of Products for Diabetes.

Clinical Trial Participation

Q:  Where can I find information about current clinical trials?
A:  Information about clinical trials conducted by NIH, NIDDK, and other Federal and private organizations is listed under Clinical Trials. The database offers information on the location of clinical trials, their design and purpose, criteria for participation, and further information about the disease and treatment under study.

Q:  How can I enroll in a clinical trial at NIDDK?
A:  You must be diagnosed with a condition under study and you must be referred by your physician. NIDDK conducts limited clinical studies at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. We also support several large, multicenter trials, which are listed under NIDDK-Funded Studies Highlights.

NIDDK National Health Education Programs

Q:  What is the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse?
A:  The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is an information and referral service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH), designed to increase knowledge and understanding about diabetes among patients and their families, health care professionals, and the general public.

Q:  What is the National Diabetes Education Program?
A:  The National Diabetes Education Program is a federally sponsored initiative that involves public and private partners to improve the treatment and outcomes for people with diabetes, to promote early diagnosis, and ultimately to prevent the onset of diabetes.

Q:  What is the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse?
A:  The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) is an information and referral service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH), designed to increase knowledge and understanding about digestive diseases and health among people with digestive diseases and their families, health care professionals, and the general public.

Q:  What is the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse?
A:  The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) is an information and referral service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH), designed to increase the knowledge and understanding about kidney and urologic diseases and health among patients and their families, health care professionals, and the general public.

Q:  What is the National Kidney Disease Education Program?
A:   The National Kidney Disease Education Program was created to reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by kidney disease and its complications. The program will raise awareness about the seriousness of kidney disease, the importance of testing, and the availability of treatment to prevent or slow kidney failure.

Q:  What is the Weight-control Information Network (WIN)?
A:  The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH). WIN provides science-based information on obesity, weight control, and related nutritional disorders to health professionals and consumers. In addition, WIN has developed the Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better public awareness campaign to encourage black women to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Page last updated: January 17, 2008

General inquiries may be addressed to: Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Building 31. Rm 9A06
31 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
For information about NIDDK programs: 301.496.3583

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